If Your Head Hurts While Doing This, You Could Have COVID

Many coronavirus patients have reported this headache phenomenon.

The coronavirus has countless reported symptoms, including one you've surely experienced with or without the virus: a headache. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that nearly 14 percent of coronavirus patients have a headache as one of their symptoms. But because your headache could also be the result of many different factors that are not COVID-related, you'll want to look closely at its characteristics to see if they match that of a COVID headache. According to research, a simple movement test may help you. If your headache feels worse when you're bending over, then it may mean you have COVID. Read on to find out more about this distinctive coronavirus symptom, and for more pains to investigate, If This Part of Your Body Hurts, You Could Have COVID.

Research shows that COVID patients suffer from headaches that feel worse when bending over.

Sad male in a white pullover bending double with a pain on a sofa
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A May 2020 study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain said that coronavirus headaches were observed with specific characteristics. According to the researchers, COVID patients reported new, moderate to severe headaches that affected both sides of their heads with a pulsating or pressing quality. They said these headaches were "exacerbated by bending over." And if you're worried about staying healthy, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.

Researchers are still trying to pinpoint why bending over makes COVID headaches worse.

Cropped shot of an attractive young businesswoman suffering with a headache while standing in her office
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Seema Sarin, MD, director of lifestyle medicine at EHE Health, says that though the exact reason a COVID headache may feel worse when bending over is not yet known, there is one theory that could explain this phenomenon. "It may be related to virus cells attacking nerve endings in the nasal cavity that cause swelling, congestion, and a feeling of pressure in your face. When you bend over, that pressure can increase," Sarin explains.

However, Chris Bodle, MD, a board certified emergency medicine physician, also offered up two possible COVID-related theories when writing for K Health: dehydration and coughing. The coronavirus can cause dehydration, which can then result in a dehydration headache that increases in pain when you bend over. But the virus can also produce a cough, which could turn into a cough headache that is triggered by coughing and other forms of straining, like bending over. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You should look out for other coronavirus symptoms.

Ill teenage girl laying at home. Concept for ill nes and coronavirus symptoms
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Just like dehydration and coughing can be triggered by causes that aren't COVID, Sarin says facial pressure can also happen with other illnesses in that same area, such as a sinus infection or cold. This is why you'll want to look out for other telltale coronavirus signs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a sinus infection is more likely to give you facial pain, as well as a stuffy nose, bad breath, and mucus dripping down the throat—which are not common COVID symptoms. With the coronavirus, you're likely to experience a fever, cough, shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue alongside your headache. And for more coronavirus symptoms you should know, This Strange Symptom Could Be a Sign of COVID, the Mayo Clinic Says.

And you should check for other reported characteristics of COVID headaches.

Shot of a man standing in front of the bathroom mirror looking exhausted, holding his head
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Sarin says it's important to note that not only will most people have at least one or two other coronavirus symptoms, but also that most headaches are not caused by COVID. This is why she advises that individuals pay attention to the other characteristics of their headaches. An August review of coronavirus cases, published in the Headache journal, found that COVID headaches often felt similar to migraines or tension headaches, lasted anywhere from 24 hours to 14 days, and were much worse than previous headaches. And for more symptoms worth investigating, This Is How to Tell If Your Upset Stomach Is COVID, Doctors Say.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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